Part 2 out of 8
His eyes which he turned upon Razumov seemed to
be starting out of his head. This grotesqueness
of aspect no longer shocked Razumov. He said
with gloomy conviction--
"Haldin will never speak."
"That remains to be seen," muttered the General.
"I am certain," insisted Razumov. "A man like
this never speaks. . . . Do you imagine that I
am here from fear?" he added violently. He felt
ready to stand by his opinion of Haldin to the
"Certainly not," protested the General, with
great simplicity of tone. "And I don't mind
telling you, Mr. Razumov, that if he had not
come with his tale to such a staunch and loyal
Russian as you, he would have disappeared like a
stone in the water . . . which would have had a
detestable effect," he added, with a bright,
cruel smile under his stony stare. "So you see,
there can be no suspicion of any fear here."
The Prince intervened, looking at Razumov round
the back of the armchair.
"Nobody doubts the moral soundness of your
action. Be at ease in that respect, pray."
He turned to the General uneasily.
"That's why I am here. You may be surprised why
I should . . . ."
The General hastened to interrupt.
"Not at all. Extremely natural. You saw the
importance. . . ."
"Yes," broke in the Prince. "And I venture to
ask insistently that mine and Mr. Razumov's
intervention should not become public. He is a
young man of promise--of remarkable aptitudes."
"I haven't a doubt of it," murmured the General.
"He inspires confidence."
"All sorts of pernicious views are so widespread
nowadays--they taint such unexpected quarters--
that, monstrous as it seems, he might suffer. .
. his studies. . . his. . ."
The General, with his elbows on the desk, took
his head between his hands.
"Yes. Yes. I am thinking it out. . . . How
long is it since you left him at your rooms, Mr.
Razumov mentioned the hour which nearly
corresponded with the time of his distracted
flight from the big slum house. He had made up
his mind to keep Ziemianitch out of the affair
completely. To mention him at all would mean
imprisonment for the "bright soul," perhaps
cruel floggings, and in the end a journey to
Siberia in chains. Razumov, who had beaten
Ziemianitch, felt for him now a vague,
The General, giving way for the first time to
his secret sentiments, exclaimed contemptuously--
"And you say he came in to make you this
confidence like this--for nothing--_a propos des
Razumov felt danger in the air. The merciless
suspicion of despotism had spoken openly at
last. Sudden fear sealed Razumov's lips. The
silence of the room resembled now the silence of
a deep dungeon, where time does not count, and a
suspect person is sometimes forgotten for ever.
But the Prince came to the rescue.
"Providence itself has led the wretch in a
moment of mental aberration to seek Mr. Razumov
on the strength of some old, utterly
misinterpreted exchange of ideas--some sort of
idle speculative conversation--months ago--I am
told--and completely forgotten till now by Mr.
"Mr. Razumov," queried the General meditatively,
after a short silence, "do you often indulge in
"No, Excellency," answered Razumov, coolly, in a
sudden access of self-confidence. "I am a man
of deep convictions. Crude opinions are in the
air. They are not always worth combating. But
even the silent contempt of a serious mind may
be misinterpreted by headlong utopists."
The General stared from between his hands.
Prince K--- murmured--
"A serious young man. _Un esprit superieur_."
"I see that, _mon cher Prince_," said the
General. "Mr. Razumov is quite safe with me. I
am interested in him. He has, it seems, the
great and useful quality of inspiring
confidence. What I was wondering at is why the
other should mention anything at all--I mean
even the bare fact alone--if his object was only
to obtain temporary shelter for a few hours.
For, after all, nothing was easier than to say
nothing about it unless, indeed, he were trying,
under a crazy misapprehension of your true
sentiments, to enlist your assistance--eh, Mr.
It seemed to Razumov that the floor was moving
slightly. This grotesque man in a tight uniform
was terrible. It was right that he should be
"I can see what your Excellency has in your
mind. But I can only answer that I don't know
"I have nothing in my mind," murmured the
General, with gentle surprise.
"I am his prey--his helpless prey," thought
Razumov. The fatigues and the disgusts of that
afternoon, the need to forget, the fear which he
could not keep off, reawakened his hate for
"Then I can't help your Excellency. I don't
know what he meant. I only know there was a
moment when I wished to kill him. There was
also a moment when I wished myself dead. I said
nothing. I was overcome. I provoked no
confidence--I asked for no explanations--"
Razumov seemed beside himself; but his mind was
lucid. It was really a calculated outburst.
"It is rather a pity," the General said, "that
you did not. Don't you know at all what he
means to do?" Razumov calmed down and saw an
"He told me he was in hopes that a sledge would
meet him about half an hour after midnight at
the seventh lamp-post on the left from the upper
end of Karabelnaya. At any rate, he meant to be
there at that time. He did not even ask me for
a change of clothes."
"_Ah voila_!" said the General, turning to
Prince K with an air of satisfaction. "There is
a way to keep your _protege_, Mr. Razumov, quite
clear of any connexion with the actual arrest.
We shall be ready for that gentleman in
The Prince expressed his gratitude. There was
real emotion in his voice. Razumov, motionless,
silent, sat staring at the carpet. The General
turned to him.
"Half an hour after midnight. Till then we have
to depend on you, Mr. Razumov. You don't think
he is likely to change his purpose?"
"How can I tell?" said Razumov. "Those men are
not of the sort that ever changes its purpose."
" What men do you mean?"
"Fanatical lovers of liberty in general.
Liberty with a capital L, Excellency. Liberty
that means nothing precise. Liberty in whose
name crimes are committed."
The General murmured--
"I detest rebels of every kind. I can't help
it. It's my nature!"
He clenched a fist and shook it, drawing back
his arm. "They shall be destroyed, then."
"They have made a sacrifice of their lives
beforehand," said Razumov with malicious
pleasure and looking the General straight in the
face. "If Haldin does change his purpose to-
night, you may depend on it that it will not be
to save his life by flight in some other way.
He would have thought then of something else to
attempt. But that is not likely."
The General repeated as if to himself, "They
shall be destroyed."
Razumov assumed an impenetrable expression.
The Prince exclaimed--
"What a terrible necessity!"
The General's arm was lowered slowly.
"One comfort there is. That brood leaves no
posterity. I've always said it, one effort,
pitiless, persistent, steady--and we are done
with them for ever."
Razumov thought to himself that this man
entrusted with so much arbitrary power must have
believed what he said or else he could not have
gone on bearing the responsibility.
"I detest rebels. These subversive minds!
These intellectual _debauches_! My existence
has been built on fidelity. It's a feeling. To
defend it I am ready to lay down my life--and
even my honour--if that were needed. But pray
tell me what honour can there be as against
rebels--against people that deny God Himself--
perfect unbelievers! Brutes. It is horrible to
During this tirade Razumov, facing the General,
had nodded slightly twice. Prince K---,
standing on one side with his grand air,
murmured, casting up his eyes--
Then lowering his glance and with great decision
"This young man, General, is perfectly fit to
apprehend the bearing of your memorable words."
The General's whole expression changed from dull
resentment to perfect urbanity.
"I would ask now, Mr. Razumov," he said, "to
return to his home. Note that I don't ask Mr.
Razumov whether he has justified his absence to
his guest. No doubt he did this sufficiently.
But I don't ask. Mr. Razumov inspires
confidence. It is a great gift. I only suggest
that a more prolonged absence might awaken the
criminal's suspicions and induce him perhaps to
change his plans."
He rose and with a scrupulous courtesy escorted
his visitors to the ante-room encumbered with
Razumov parted with the Prince at the corner of
a street. In the carriage he had listened to
speeches where natural sentiment struggled with
caution. Evidently the Prince was afraid of
encouraging any hopes of future intercourse.
But there was a touch of tenderness in the voice
uttering in the dark the guarded general phrases
of goodwill. And the Prince too said--
"I have perfect confidence in you, Mr. Razumov."
"They all, it seems, have confidence in me,"
thought Razumov dully. He had an indulgent
contempt for the man sitting shoulder to
shoulder with him in the confined space.
Probably he was afraid of scenes with his wife.
She was said to be proud and violent.
It seemed to him bizarre that secrecy should
play such a large part in the comfort and safety
of lives. But he wanted to put the Prince's
mind at ease; and with a proper amount of
emphasis he said that, being conscious of some
small abilities and confident in his power of
work, he trusted his future to his own
exertions. He expressed his gratitude for the
helping hand. Such dangerous situations did not
occur twice in the course of one life--he added.
"And you have met this one with a firmness of
mind and correctness of feeling which give me a
high idea of your worth," the Prince said
solemnly. "You have now only to persevere--to
On getting out on the pavement Razumov saw an
ungloved hand extended to him through the
lowered window of the brougham. It detained his
own in its grasp for a moment, while the light
of a street lamp fell upon the Prince's long
face and old-fashioned grey whiskers.
"I hope you are perfectly reassured now as to
the consequences. . . "
"After what your Excellency has condescended to
do for me, I can only rely on my conscience."
"_Adieu_," said the whiskered head with feeling.
Razumov bowed. The brougham glided away with a
slight swish in the snow--he was alone on the
edge of the pavement.
He said to himself that there was nothing to
think about, and began walking towards his home.
He walked quietly. It was a common experience
to walk thus home to bed after an evening spent
somewhere with his fellows or in the cheaper
seats of a theatre. After he had gone a little
way the familiarity of things got hold of him.
Nothing was changed. There was the familiar
corner; and when he turned it he saw the
familiar dim light of the provision shop kept by
a German woman. There were loaves of stale
bread, bunches of onions and strings of sausages
behind the small window-panes. They were
closing it. The sickly lame fellow whom he knew
so well by sight staggered out into the snow
embracing a large shutter.
Nothing would change. There was the familiar
gateway yawning black with feeble glimmers
marking the arches of the different staircases.
The sense of life's continuity depended on
trifling bodily impressions. The trivialities
of daily existence were an armour for the soul.
And this thought reinforced the inward quietness
of Razumov as he began to climb the stairs
familiar to his feet in the dark, with his hand
on the familiar clammy banister. The
exceptional could not prevail against the
material contacts which make one day resemble
another. To-morrow would be like yesterday.
It was only on the stage that the unusual was
"I suppose," thought Razumov, "that if I had
made up my mind to blow out my brains on the
landing I would be going up these stairs as
quietly as I am doing it now. What's a man to
do? What must be must be. Extraordinary things
do happen. But when they have happened they are
done with. Thus, too, when the mind is made up.
That question is done with. And the daily
concerns, the familiarities of our thought
swallow it up--and the life goes on as before
with its mysterious and secret sides quite out
of sight, as they should be. Life is a public
Razumov unlocked his door and took the key out;
entered very quietly and bolted the door behind
He thought, "He hears me," and after bolting the
door he stood still holding his breath. There
was not a sound. He crossed the bare outer
room, stepping deliberately in the darkness.
Entering the other, he felt all over his table
for the matchbox. The silence, but for the
groping of his hand, was profound. Could the
fellow be sleeping so soundly?
He struck a light and looked at the bed. Haldin
was lying on his back as before, only both his
hands were under his head. His eyes were open.
He stared at the ceiling.
Razumov held the match up. He saw the clear-cut
features, the firm chin, the white forehead and
the topknot of fair hair against the white
pillow. There he was, lying flat on his back.
Razumov thought suddenly, "I have walked over
He continued to stare till the match burnt
itself out; then struck another and lit the lamp
in silence without looking towards the bed any
more. He had turned his back on it and was
hanging his coat on a peg when he heard Haldin
sigh profoundly, then ask in a tired voice--
"Well! And what have you arranged?"
The emotion was so great that Razumov was glad
to put his hands against the wall. A diabolical
impulse to say, "I have given you up to the
police," frightened him exceedingly. But he did
not say that. He said, without turning round,
in a muffled voice--
Again he heard Haldin sigh. He walked to the
table, sat down with the lamp before him, and
only then looked towards the bed.
In the distant corner of the large room far away
from the lamp, which was small and provided with
a very thick china shade, Haldin appeared like a
dark and elongated shape--rigid with the
immobility of death. This body seemed to have
less substance than its own phantom walked over
by Razumov in the street white with snow. It
was more alarming in its shadowy, persistent
reality than the distinct but vanishing illusion.
Haldin was heard again.
"You must have had a walk--such a walk. . ." he
murmured deprecatingly.'' This weather. . . ."
Razumov answered with energy--
" Horrible walk. . . . A nightmare of a walk."
He shuddered audibly. Haldin sighed once more,
"And so you have seen Ziemianitch--brother?"
"I've seen him."
Razumov, remembering the time he had spent with
the Prince, thought it prudent to add, "I had to
wait some time."
"A character--eh? It's extraordinary what a
sense of the necessity of freedom there is in
that man. And he has sayings too--simple, to
the point, such as only the people can invent in
their rough sagacity. A character that. . . ."
"I, you understand, haven't had much
opportunity. . . ." Razumov muttered through
Haldin continued to stare at the ceiling.
"You see, brother, I have been a good deal in
that house of late. I used to take there books--
leaflets. Not a few of the poor people who live
there can read. And, you see, the guests for
the feast of freedom must be sought for in
byways and hedges. The truth is, I have almost
lived in that house of late. I slept sometimes
in the stable. There is a stable. . . ."
"That's where I had my interview with
Ziemianitch," interrupted Razumov gently. A
mocking spirit entered into him and he added,
"It was satisfactory in a sense. I came away
from it much relieved."
"Ah! he's a fellow," went on Haldin, talking
slowly at the ceiling. "I came to know him in
that way, you see. For some weeks now, ever
since I resigned myself to do what had to be
done, I tried to isolate myself. I gave up my
rooms. What was the good of exposing a decent
widow woman to the risk of being worried out of
her mind by the police? I gave up seeing any of
our comrades. . . ."
Razumov drew to himself a half-sheet of paper
and began to trace lines on it with a pencil.
"Upon my word," he thought angrily, "he seems to
have thought of everybody's safety but mine."
Haldin was talking on.
"This morning--ah! this morning--that was
different. How can I explain to you? Before
the deed was done I wandered at night and lay
hid in the day, thinking it out, and I felt
restful. Sleepless but restful. What was there
for me to torment myself about? But this
morning--after! Then it was that I became
restless. I could not have stopped in that big
house full of misery. The miserable of this
world can't give you peace. Then when that
silly caretaker began to shout, I said to
myself, 'There is a young man in this town head
and shoulders above common prejudices.'"
"Is he laughing at me?" .Razumov asked himself,
going on with his aimless drawing of triangles
and squares. And suddenly he thought: "My
behaviour must appear to him strange. Should he
take fright at my manner and rush off somewhere
I shall be undone completely. That infernal
General. . . ."
He dropped the pencil and turned abruptly
towards the bed with the shadowy figure extended
full length on it--so much more indistinct than
the one over whose breast he had walked without
faltering. Was this, too, a phantom?
The silence had lasted a long time. "He is no
longer here," was the thought against which
Razumov struggled desperately, quite frightened
at its absurdity. "He is already gone and this.
. .only. . . ."
He could resist no longer. He sprang to his
feet, saying aloud, "I am intolerably anxious,"
and in a few headlong strides stood by the side
of the bed. His hand fell lightly on Haldin's
shoulder, and directly he felt its reality he
was beset by an insane temptation to grip that
exposed throat and squeeze the breath out of
that body, lest it should escape his custody,
leaving only a phantom behind.
Haldin did not stir a limb, but his overshadowed
eyes moving a little gazed upwards at Razumov
with wistful gratitude for this manifestation of
Razumov turned away and strode up and down the
room. "It would have been possibly a kindness,"
he muttered to himself, and was appalled by the
nature of that apology for a murderous intention
his mind had found somewhere within him. And
all the same he could not give it up. He became
lucid about it. "What can he expect?" he
thought. "The halter--in the end. And I. . . ."
This argument was interrupted by Haldin's voice.
"Why be anxious for me? They can kill my body,
but they cannot exile my soul from this world.
I tell you what--I believe in this world so much
that I cannot conceive eternity otherwise than
as a very long life. That is perhaps the reason
I am so ready to die."
"H'm," muttered Razumov, and biting his lower
lip he continued to walk up and down and to
carry on his strange argument.
Yes, to a man in such a situation--of course it
would be an act of kindness. The question,
however, was not how to be kind, but how to be
firm. He was a slippery customer
"I too, Victor Victorovitch, believe in this
world of ours," he said with force. "I too,
while I live. . . . But you seem determined to
haunt it. You can't seriously. . . mean"
The voice of the motionless Haldin began--
"Haunt it! Truly, the oppressors of thought
which quickens the world, the destroyers of
souls which aspire to perfection of human
dignity, they shall be haunted. As to the
destroyers of my mere body, I have forgiven them
Razumov had stopped apparently to listen, but at
the same time he was observing his own
sensations. He was vexed with himself for
attaching so much importance to what Haldin said.
"The fellow's mad," he thought firmly, but this
opinion did not mollify him towards Haldin. It
was a particularly impudent form of lunacy--and
when it got loose in the sphere of public life
of a country, it was obviously the duty of every
good citizen. . . .
This train of thought broke off short there and
was succeeded by a paroxysm of silent hatred
towards Haldin, so intense that Razumov hastened
to speak at random.
"Yes. Eternity, of course. I, too, can't very
well represent it to myself. . . . I imagine
it, however, as something quiet and dull. There
would be nothing unexpected--don't you see? The
element of time would be wanting."
He pulled out his watch and gazed at it. Haldin
turned over on his side and looked on intently.
Razumov got frightened at this movement. A
slippery customer this fellow with a phantom.
It was not midnight yet. He hastened on--
"And unfathomable mysteries! Can you conceive
secret places in Eternity? Impossible. Whereas
life is full of them. There are secrets of
birth, for instance. One carries them on to the
grave. There is something comical. . . but
never mind. And there are secret motives of
conduct. A man's most open actions have a
secret side to them. That is interesting and so
unfathomable! For instance, a man goes out of a
room for a walk. Nothing more trivial in
appearance. And yet it may be momentous. He
comes back--he has seen perhaps a drunken brute,
taken particular notice of the snow on the
ground--and behold he is no longer the same man.
The most unlikely things have a secret power
over one's thoughts--the grey whiskers of a
particular person--the goggle eyes of another."
Razumov's forehead was moist. He took a turn or
two in the room, his head low and smiling to
"Have you ever reflected on the power of goggle
eyes and grey whiskers? Excuse me. You seem to
think I must be crazy to talk in this vein at
such a time. But I am not talking lightly. I
have seen instances. It has happened to me once
to be talking to a man whose fate was affected
by physical facts of that kind. And the man did
not know it. Of course, it was a case of
conscience, but the material facts such as these
brought about the solution. . . . And you tell
me, Victor Victorovitch, not to be anxious!
Why! I am responsible for you," Razumov almost
He avoided with difficulty a burst of
Mephistophelian laughter. Haldin, very pale,
raised himself on his elbow.
"And the surprises of life," went on Razumov,
after glancing at the other uneasily. "Just
consider their astonishing nature. A mysterious
impulse induces you to come here. I don't say
you have done wrong. Indeed, from a certain
point of view you could not have done better.
You might have gone to a man with affections and
family ties. You have such ties yourself. As
to me, you know I have been brought up in an
educational institute where they did not give us
enough to eat. To talk of affection in such a
connexion--you perceive yourself. . . . As to
ties, the only ties I have in the world are
social. I must get acknowledged in some way
before I can act at all. I sit here working. .
. . And don't you think I am working for
progress too? I've got to find my own ideas of
the true way. . . . Pardon me," continued
Razumov, after drawing breath and with a short,
throaty laugh, "but I haven't inherited a
revolutionary inspiration together with a
resemblance from an uncle."
He looked again at his watch and noticed with
sickening disgust that there were yet a good
many minutes to midnight. He tore watch and
chain off his waistcoat and laid them on the
table well in the circle of bright lamplight.
Haldin, reclining on his elbow, did not stir.
Razumov was made uneasy by this attitude. "What
move is he meditating over so quietly?" he
thought. "He must be prevented. I must keep on
talking to him."
He raised his voice.
"You are a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin--I
don't know what--to no end of people. I am just
a man. Here I stand before you. A man with a
mind. Did it ever occur to you how a man who
had never heard a word of warm affection or
praise in his life would think on matters on
which you would think first with or against your
class, your domestic tradition--your fireside
prejudices?. . . Did you ever consider how a
man like that would feel? I have no domestic
tradition. I have nothing to think against. My
tradition is historical. What have I to look
back to but that national past from which you
gentlemen want to wrench away your future? Am I
to let my intelligence, my aspirations towards a
better lot, be robbed of the only thing it has
to go upon at the will of violent enthusiasts?
You come from your province, but all this land
is mine--or I have nothing. No doubt you shall
be looked upon as a martyr some day--a sort of
hero--a political saint. But I beg to be
excused. I am content in fitting myself to be a
worker. And what can you people do by
scattering a few drops of blood on the snow? On
this Immensity. On this unhappy Immensity! I
tell you," he cried, in a vibrating, subdued
voice, and advancing one step nearer the bed,
"that what it needs is not a lot of haunting
phantoms that I could walk through--but a man!"
Haldin threw his arms forward as if to keep him
off in horror.
"I understand it all now," he exclaimed, with
awestruck dismay. "I understand--at last."
Razumov staggered back against the table. His
forehead broke out in perspiration while a cold
shudder ran down his spine.
"What have I been saying?" he asked himself.
"Have I let him slip through my fingers after
"He felt his lips go stiff like buckram, and
instead of a reassuring smile only achieved an
" What will you have?" he began in a
conciliating voice which got steady after the
first trembling word or two. "What will you
have? Consider--a man of studious, retired
habits--and suddenly like this. . . . I am not
practised in talking delicately. But. . . ."
He felt anger, a wicked anger, get hold of him
"What were we to do together till midnight? Sit
here opposite each other and think of your--your-
Haldin had a subdued, heartbroken attitude. He
bowed his head; his hands hung between his
knees. His voice was low and pained but calm.
"I see now how it is, Razumov--brother. You are
a magnanimous soul, but my action is abhorrent
to you--alas. . . ."
Razumov stared. From fright he had set his
teeth so hard that his whole face ached. It was
impossible for him to make a sound.
"And even my person, too, is loathsome to you
perhaps," Haldin added mournfully, after a short
pause, looking up for a moment, then fixing his
gaze on the floor. "For indeed, unless one. . .
He broke off evidently waiting for a word.
Razumov remained silent. Haldin nodded his head
"Of course. Of course," he murmured. . . .
"Ah! weary work!"
He remained perfectly still for a moment, then
made Razumov's leaden heart strike a ponderous
blow by springing up briskly.
"So be it," he cried sadly in a low, distinct
tone. "Farewell then."
Razumov started forward, but the sight of
Haldin's raised hand checked him before he could
get away from the table. He leaned on it
heavily, listening to the faint sounds of some
town clock tolling the hour. Haldin, already at
the door, tall and straight as an arrow, with
his pale face and a hand raised attentively,
might have posed for the statue of a daring
youth listening to an inner voice. Razumov
mechanically glanced down at his watch. When he
looked towards the door again Haldin had
vanished. There was a faint rustling in the
outer room, the feeble click of a bolt drawn
back lightly. He was gone--almost as noiseless
as a vision.
Razumov ran forward unsteadily, with parted,
voiceless lips. The outer door stood open.
Staggering out on the landing, he leaned far
over the banister. Gazing down into the deep
black shaft with a tiny glimmering flame at the
bottom, he traced by ear the rapid spiral
descent of somebody running down the stairs on
tiptoe. It was a light, swift, pattering sound,
which sank away from him into the depths: a
fleeting shadow passed over the glimmer--a wink
of the tiny flame. Then stillness.
Razumov hung over, breathing the cold raw air
tainted by the evil smells of the unclean
staircase. All quiet.
He went back into his room slowly, shutting the
doors after him. The peaceful steady light of
his reading-lamp shone on the watch. Razumov
stood looking down at the little white dial. It
wanted yet three minutes to midnight. He took
the watch into his hand fumblingly.
"Slow," he muttered, and a strange fit of
nervelessness came over him. His knees shook,
the watch and chain slipped through his fingers
in an instant and fell on the floor. He was so
startled that he nearly fell himself. When at
last he regained enough confidence in his limbs
to stoop for it he held it to his ear at once.
After a while he growled--
"Stopped," and paused for quite a long time
before he muttered sourly--
"It's done. . . . And now to work."
He sat down, reached haphazard for a book,
opened it in middle and began to read; but after
going conscientiously over two lines he lost his
hold on the print completely and did not try to
regain it. He thought--
"There was to a certainty a police agent of some
sort watching the house across the street."
He imagined him lurking in a dark gateway,
goggle-eyed, muffled up in a cloak to the nose
and with a General's plumed, cocked hat on his
head. This absurdity made him start in the
chair convulsively. He literally had to shake
his head violently to get rid of it. The man
would be disguised perhaps as a peasant. . . a
beggar. . . . Perhaps he would be just buttoned
up in a dark overcoat and carrying a loaded
stick--a shifty-eyed rascal, smelling of raw
onions and spirits.
This evocation brought on positive nausea. "Why
do I want to bother about this?" thought
Razumov with disgust. "Am I a gendarme?
Moreover, it is done."
He got up in great agitation. It was not done.
Not yet. Not till half-past twelve. And the
watch had stopped. This reduced him to despair.
Impossible to know the time! The landlady and
all the people across the landing were asleep.
How could he go and. . . . God knows what they
would imagine, or how much they would guess. He
dared not go into the streets to find out. "I
am a suspect now. There's no use shirking that
fact," he said to himself bitterly. If Haldin
from some cause or another gave them the slip
and failed to turn up in the Karabelnaya the
police would be invading his lodging. And if he
were not in he could never clear himself.
Never. Razumov looked wildly about as if for
some means of seizing upon time which seemed to
have escaped him altogether. He had never, as
far as he could remember, heard the striking of
that town clock in his rooms before this night.
And he was not even sure now whether he had
heard it really on this night.
He went to the window and stood there with
slightly bent head on the watch for the faint
sound. 'I will stay here till I hear
something," he said to himself. He stood still,
his ear turned to the panes. An atrocious
aching numbness with shooting pains in his back
and legs tortured him. He did not budge. His
mind hovered on the borders of delirium. He
heard himself suddenly saying, "I confess," as a
person might do on the rack. "I am on the
rack," he thought. He felt ready to swoon. The
faint deep boom of the distant clock seemed to
explode in his head--he heard it so clearly. . .
If Haldin had not turned up the police would
have been already here ransacking the house. No
sound reached him. This time it was done.
He dragged himself painfully to the table and
dropped into the chair. He flung the book away
and took a square sheet of paper. It was like
the pile of sheets covered with his neat minute
handwriting, only blank. He took a pen
brusquely and dipped it with a vague notion of
going on with the writing of his essay--but his
pen remained poised over the sheet. It hung
there for some time before it came down and
formed long scrawly letters.
Still-faced and his lips set hard, Razumov began
to write. When he wrote a large hand his neat
writing lost its character altogether--became
unsteady, almost childish. He wrote five lines
one under the other.
History not Theory.
Patriotism not Internationalism.
Evolution not Revolution.
Direction not Destruction.
Unity not Disruption.
He gazed at them dully. Then his eyes strayed
to the bed and remained fixed there for a good
many minutes, while his right hand groped all
over the table for the penknife.
He rose at last, and walking up with measured
steps stabbed the paper with the penknife to the
lath and plaster wall at the head of the bed.
This done he stepped back a pace and flourished
his hand with a glance round the room.
After that he never looked again at the bed. He
took his big cloak down from its peg and,
wrapping himself up closely, went to lie down on
the hard horse-hair sofa at the other side of
his room. A leaden sleep closed his eyelids at
once. Several times that night he woke up
shivering from a dream of walking through drifts
of snow in a Russia where he was as completely
alone as any betrayed autocrat could be; an
immense, wintry Russia which, somehow, his view
could embrace in all its enormous expanse as if
it were a map. But after each shuddering start
his heavy eyelids fell over his glazed eyes and
he slept again.
Approaching this part of Mr. Razumov's story, my
mind, the decent mind of an old teacher of
languages, feels more and more the difficulty of
The task is not in truth the writing in the
narrative form a _precis_ of a strange human
document, but the rendering--I perceive it now
clearly--of the moral conditions ruling over a
large portion of this earth's surface;
conditions not easily to be understood, much
less discovered in the limits of a story, till
some key-word is found; a word that could stand
at the back of all the words covering the pages;
a word which, if not truth itself, may perchance
hold truth enough to help the moral discovery
which should be the object of every tale.
I turn over for the hundredth time the leaves of
Mr. Razumov's record, I lay it aside, I take up
the pen--and the pen being ready for its office
of setting down black on white I hesitate. For
the word that persists in creeping under its
point is no other word than "cynicism."
For that is the mark of Russian autocracy and of
Russian revolt. In its pride of numbers, in its
strange pretensions of sanctity, and in the
secret readiness to abase itself in suffering,
the spirit of Russia is the spirit of cynicism.
It informs the declarations of her statesmen,
the theories of her revolutionists, and the
mystic vaticinations of prophets to the point of
making freedom look like a form of debauch, and
the Christian virtues themselves appear actually
indecent. . . . But I must apologize for the
digression. It proceeds from the consideration
of the course taken by the story of Mr. Razumov
after his conservative convictions, diluted in a
vague liberalism natural to the ardour of his
age, had become crystallized by the shock of his
contact with Haldin.
Razumov woke up for the tenth time perhaps with
a heavy shiver. Seeing the light of day in his
window, he resisted the inclination to lay
himself down again. He did not remember
anything, but he did not think it strange to
find himself on the sofa in his cloak and
chilled to the bone. The light coming through
the window seemed strangely cheerless,
containing no promise as the light of each new
day should for a young man. It was the
awakening of a man mortally ill, or of a man
ninety years old. He looked at the lamp which
had burnt itself out. It stood there, the
extinguished beacon of his labours, a cold
object of brass and porcelain, amongst the
scattered pages of his notes and small piles of
books--a mere litter of blackened paper--dead
matter--without significance or interest.
He got on his feet, and divesting himself of his
cloak hung it on the peg, going through all the
motions mechanically. An incredible dullness, a
ditch-water stagnation was sensible to his
perceptions as though life had withdrawn itself
from all things and even from his own thoughts.
There was not a sound in the house.
Turning away from the peg, he thought in that
same lifeless manner that it must be very early
yet; but when he looked at the watch on his
table he saw both hands arrested at twelve
"Ah! yes," he mumbled to himself, and as if
beginning to get roused a little he took a
survey of his room. The paper stabbed to the
wall arrested his attention. He eyed it from
the distance without approval or perplexity; but
when he heard the servant-girl beginning to
bustle about in the outer room with the
_samovar_ for his morning tea, he walked up to
it and took it down with an air of profound
While doing this he glanced down at the bed on
which he had not slept that night. The hollow
in the pillow made by the weight of Haldin's
head was very noticeable.
Even his anger at this sign of the man's passage
was dull. He did not try to nurse it into life.
He did nothing all that day; he neglected even
to brush his hair. The idea of going out never
occurred to him--and if he did not start a
connected train of thought it was not because he
was unable to think. It was because he was not
He yawned frequently. He drank large quantities
of tea, he walked about aimlessly, and when he
sat down he did not budge for a long time. He
spent some time drumming on the window with his
finger-tips quietly. In his listless wanderings
round about the table he caught sight of his own
face in the looking-glass and that arrested him.
The eyes which returned his stare were the most
unhappy eyes he had ever seen. And this was the
first thing which disturbed the mental
stagnation of that day.
He was not affected personally. He merely
thought that life without happiness is
impossible. What was happiness? He yawned and
went on shuffling about and about between the
walls of his room. Looking forward was
happiness--that's all--nothing more. To look
forward to the gratification of some desire, to
the gratification of some passion, love,
ambition, hate--hate too indubitably. Love and
hate. And to escape the dangers of existence,
to live without fear, was also happiness. There
was nothing else. Absence of fear--looking
forward. "Oh! the miserable lot of humanity!"
he exclaimed mentally; and added at once in his
thought, "I ought to be happy enough as far as
that goes." But he was not excited by that
assurance. On the contrary, he yawned again as
he had been yawning all day. He was mildly
surprised to discover himself being overtaken by
night. The room grew dark swiftly though time
had seemed to stand still. How was it that he
had not noticed the passing of that day? Of
course, it was the watch being stopped. . . .
He did not light his lamp, but went over to the
bed and threw himself on it without any
hesitation. Lying on his back, he put his hands
under his head and stared upward. After a
moment he thought, "I am lying here like that
man. I wonder if he slept while I was
struggling with the blizzard in the streets.
No, he did not sleep. But why should I not
sleep?" and he felt the silence of the night
press upon all his limbs like a weight.
In the calm of the hard frost outside, the clear-
cut strokes of the town clock counting off
midnight penetrated the quietness of his
Again he began to think. It was twenty-four
hours since that man left his room. Razumov had
a distinct feeling that Haldin in the fortress
was sleeping that night. It was a certitude
which made him angry because he did not want to
think of Haldin, but he justified it to himself
by physiological and psychological reasons. The
fellow had hardly slept for weeks on his own
confession, and now every incertitude was at an
end for him. No doubt he was looking forward to
the consummation of his martyrdom. A man who
resigns himself to kill need not go very far for
resignation to die. Haldin slept perhaps more
soundly than General T---, whose task--weary
work too--was not done, and over whose head hung
the sword of revolutionary vengeance.
Razumov, remembering the thick-set man with his
heavy jowl resting on the collar of his uniform,
the champion of autocracy, who had let no sign
of surprise, incredulity, or joy escape him, but
whose goggle eyes could express a mortal hatred
of all rebellion--Razumov moved uneasily on the
"He suspected me," he thought. "I suppose he
must suspect everybody. He would be capable of
suspecting his own wife, if Haldin had gone to
her boudoir with his confession."
Razumov sat up in anguish. Was he to remain a
political suspect all his days? Was he to go
through life as a man not wholly to be trusted--
with a bad secret police note tacked on to his
record? What sort of future could he look
"I am now a suspect," he thought again; but the
habit of reflection and that desire of safety,
of an ordered life, which was so strong in him
came to his assistance as the night wore on.
His quiet, steady, and laborious existence would
vouch at length for his loyalty. There were
many permitted ways to serve one's country.
There was an activity that made for progress
without being revolutionary. The field of
influence was great and infinitely varied--once
one had conquered a name.
His thought like a circling bird reverted after
four-and-twenty hours to the silver medal, and
as it were poised itself there.
When the day broke he had not slept, not for a
moment, but he got up not very tired and quite
sufficiently self-possessed for all practical
He went out and attended three lectures in the
morning. But the work in the library was a mere
dumb show of research. He sat with many volumes
open before him trying to make notes and
extracts. His new tranquillity was like a
flimsy garment, and seemed to float at the mercy
of a casual word. Betrayal! Why! the fellow
had done all that was necessary to betray
himself. Precious little had been needed to
"I have said no word to him that was not
strictly true. Not one word," Razumov argued
Once engaged on this line of thought there could
be no question of doing useful work. The same
ideas went on passing through his mind, and he
pronounced mentally the same words over and over
again. He shut up all the books and rammed all
his papers into his pocket with convulsive
movements, raging inwardly against Haldin.
As he was leaving the library a long bony
student in a threadbare overcoat joined him,
stepping moodily by his side. Razumov answered
his mumbled greeting without looking at him at
"What does he want with me? "he thought with a
strange dread of the unexpected which he tried
to shake off lest it should fasten itself upon
his life for good and all. And the other,
muttering cautiously with downcast eyes,
supposed that his comrade had seen the news of
de P---'s executioner--that was the expression
he used--having been arrested the night before
last. . . .
"I've been ill--shut up in my rooms," Razumov
mumbled through his teeth.
The tall student, raising his shoulders, shoved
his hands deep into his pockets. He had a
hairless, square, tallowy chin which trembled
slightly as he spoke, and his nose nipped bright
red by the sharp air looked like a false nose of
painted cardboard between the sallow cheeks.
His whole appearance was stamped with the mark
of cold and hunger. He stalked deliberately at
Razumov's elbow with his eyes on the ground.
"It's an official statement," he continued in
the same cautious mutter." It may be a lie.
But there was somebody arrested between midnight
and one in the morning on Tuesday. This is
And talking rapidly under the cover of his
downcast air, he told Razumov that this was
known through an inferior Government clerk
employed at the Central Secretariat. That man
belonged to one of the revolutionary circles.
"The same, in fact, I am affiliated to,"
remarked the student.
They were crossing a wide quadrangle. An
infinite distress possessed Razumov, annihilated
his energy, and before his eyes everything
appeared confused and as if evanescent. He
dared not leave the fellow there. "He may be
affiliated to the police," was the thought that
passed through his mind. "Who could tell?" But
eyeing the miserable frost-nipped, famine-struck
figure of his companion he perceived the
absurdity of his suspicion.
"But I--you know--I don't belong to any circle.
I. . . ."
He dared not say any more. Neither dared he
mend his pace. The other, raising and setting
down his lamentably shod feet with exact
deliberation, protested in a low tone that it
was not necessary for everybody to belong to an
organization. The most valuable personalities
remained outside. Some of the best work was
done outside the organization. Then very fast,
with whispering, feverish lips--
"The man arrested in the street was Haldin."
And accepting Razumov's dismayed silence as
natural enough, he assured him that there was no
mistake. That Government clerk was on night
duty at the Secretariat. Hearing a great noise
of footsteps in the hall and aware that
political prisoners were brought over sometimes
at night from the fortress, he opened the door
of the room in which he was working, suddenly.
Before the gendarme on duty could push him back
and slam the door in his face, he had seen a
prisoner being partly carried, partly dragged
along the hall by a lot of policemen. He was
being used very brutally. And the clerk had
recognized Haldin perfectly. Less than half an
hour afterwards General T--- arrived at the
Secretariat to examine that prisoner personally.
"Aren't you astonished?" concluded the gaunt
"No," said Razumov roughly--and at once
regretted his answer.
"Everybody supposed Haldin was in the provinces--
with his people. Didn't you? "
The student turned his big hollow eyes upon
Razumov, who said unguardedly--
"His people are abroad."
He could have bitten his tongue out with
vexation. The student pronounced in a tone of
" So! You alone were aware. . ." and stopped.
"They have sworn my ruin," thought Razumov."
Have you spoken of this to anyone else?" he
asked with bitter curiosity.
The other shook his head.
"No, only to you. Our circle thought that as
Haldin had been often heard expressing a warm
appreciation of your character. . . ."
Razumov could not restrain a gesture of angry
despair which the other must have misunderstood
in some way, because he ceased speaking and
turned away his black, lack-lustre eyes.
They moved side by side in silence. Then the
gaunt student began to whisper again, with
"As we have at present no one affiliated inside
the fortress so as to make it possible to
furnish him with a packet of poison, we have
considered already some sort of retaliatory
action--to follow very soon. . . ."
Razumov trudging on interrupted--
"Were you acquainted with Haldin? Did he know
where you live?"
"I had the happiness to hear him speak twice,"
his companion answered in the feverish whisper
contrasting with the gloomy apathy of his face
and bearing. "He did not know where I live. . .
. I am lodging poorly with an artisan family. .
. . I have just a corner in a room. It is not
very practicable to see me there, but if you
should need me for anything I am ready. . . .
Razumov trembled with rage and fear. He was
beside himself, but kept his voice low.
"You are not to come near me. You are not to
speak to me. Never address a single word to me.
I forbid you."
"Very well," said the other submissively,
showing no surprise whatever at this abrupt
prohibition. "You don't wish for secret
reasons. . . perfectly. . . I understand."
He edged away at once, not looking up even; and
Razumov saw his gaunt, shabby, famine-stricken
figure cross the street obliquely with lowered
head and that peculiar exact motion of the feet.
He watched him as one would watch a vision out
of a nightmare, then he continued on his way,
trying not to think. On his landing the
landlady seemed to be waiting for him. She was
a short, thick, shapeless woman with a large
yellow face wrapped up everlastingly in a black
woollen shawl. When she saw him come up the
last flight of stairs she flung both her arms up
excitedly, then clasped her hands before her
"Kirylo Sidorovitch--little father--what have
you been doing? And such a quiet young man,
too! The police are just gone this moment after
searching your rooms."
Razumov gazed down at her with silent,
scrutinizing attention. Her puffy yellow
countenance was working with emotion. She
screwed up her eyes at him entreatingly.
"Such a sensible young man! Anybody can see you
are sensible. And now--like this--all at once.
. . . What is the good of mixing yourself up
with these Nihilists? Do give over, little
father. They are unlucky people."
Razumov moved his shoulders slightly.
"Or is it that some secret enemy has been
calumniating you, Kirylo Sidorovitch? The world
is full of black hearts and false denunciations
nowadays. There is much fear about."
"Have you heard that I have been denounced by
some one?" asked Razumov, without taking his
eyes off her quivering face.
But she had not heard anything. She had tried
to find out by asking the police captain while
his men were turning the room upside down. The
police captain of the district had known her for
the last eleven years and was a humane person.
But he said to her on the landing, looking very
black and vexed--
"My good woman, do not ask questions. I don't
know anything myself. The order comes from
And indeed there had appeared, shortly after the
arrival of the policemen of the district, a very
superior gentleman in a fur coat and a shiny
hat, who sat down in the room and looked through
all the papers himself. He came alone and went
away by himself, taking nothing with him. She
had been trying to put things straight a little
since they left.
Razumov turned away brusquely and entered his
All his books had been shaken and thrown on the
floor. His landlady followed him, and stooping
painfully began to pick them up into her apron.
His papers and notes which were kept always
neatly sorted (they all related to his studies)
had been shuffled up and heaped together into a
ragged pile in the middle of the table.
This disorder affected him profoundly,
unreasonably. He sat down and stared. He had a
distinct sensation of his very existence being
undermined in some mysterious manner, of his
moral supports falling away from him one by one.
He even experienced a slight physical giddiness
and made a movement as if to reach for something
to steady himself with.
The old woman, rising to her feet with a low
groan, shot all the books she had collected in
her apron on to the sofa and left the room
muttering and sighing.
It was only then that he noticed that the sheet
of paper which for one night had remained
stabbed to the wall above his empty bed was
lying on top of the pile.
When he had taken it down the day before he had
folded it in four, absent-mindedly, before
dropping it on the table. And now he saw it
lying uppermost, spread out, smoothed out even
and covering all the confused pile of pages, the
record of his intellectual life for the last
three years. It had not been flung there. It
had been placed there--smoothed out, too! He
guessed in that an intention of profound meaning-
-or perhaps some inexplicable mockery.
He sat staring at the piece of paper till his
eyes began to smart. He did not attempt to put
his papers in order, either that evening or the
next day--which he spent at home in a state of
peculiar irresolution. This irresolution bore
upon the question whether he should continue to
live--neither more nor less. But its nature was
very far removed from the hesitation of a man
contemplating suicide. The idea of laying
violent hands upon his body did not occur to
Razumov. The unrelated organism bearing that
label, walking, breathing, wearing these
clothes, was of no importance to anyone, unless
maybe to the landlady. The true Razumov had his
being in the willed, in the determined future--
in that future menaced by the lawlessness of
autocracy--for autocracy knows no law--and the
lawlessness of revolution. The feeling that his
moral personality was at the mercy of these
lawless forces was so strong that he asked
himself seriously if it were worth while to go
on accomplishing the mental functions of that
existence which seemed no longer his own.
"What is the good of exerting my intelligence,
of pursuing the systematic development of my
faculties and all my plans of work?" he asked
himself. "I want to guide my conduct by
reasonable convictions, but what security have I
against something--some destructive horror--
walking in upon me as I sit here?. . ."
Razumov looked apprehensively towards the door
of the outer room as if expecting some shape of
evil to turn the handle and appear before him
"A common thief," he said to himself," finds
more guarantees in the law he is breaking, and
even a brute like Ziemianitch has his
consolation." Razumov envied the materialism of
the thief and the passion of the incorrigible
lover. The consequences of their actions were
always clear and their lives remained their own.
But he slept as soundly that night as though he
had been consoling himself in the manner of
Ziemianitch. He dropped off suddenly, lay like
a log, remembered no dream on waking. But it
was as if his soul had gone out in the night to
gather the flowers of wrathful wisdom. He got
up in a mood of grim determination and as if
with a new knowledge of his own nature. He
looked mockingly on the heap of papers on his
table; and left his room to attend the lectures,
muttering to himself, "We shall see."
He was in no humour to talk to anybody or hear
himself questioned as to his absence from
lectures the day before. But it was difficult
to repulse rudely a very good comrade with a
smooth pink face and fair hair, bearing the
nickname amongst his fellow-students of "Madcap
Kostia." He was the idolized only son of a very
wealthy and illiterate Government contractor,
and attended the lectures only during the
periodical fits of contrition following upon
tearful paternal remonstrances. Noisily
blundering like a retriever puppy, his elated
voice and great gestures filled the bare academy
corridors with the joy of thoughtless animal
life, provoking indulgent smiles at a great
distance. His usual discourses treated of
trotting horses, wine-parties in expensive
restaurants, and the merits of persons of easy
virtue, with a disarming artlessness of outlook.
He pounced upon Razumov about midday, somewhat
less uproariously than his habit was, and led
"Just a moment, Kirylo Sidorovitch. A few words
here in this quiet corner."
He felt Razumov's reluctance, and insinuated his
hand under his arm caressingly.
"No--pray do. I don't want to talk to you about
any of my silly scrapes. What are my scrapes?
Absolutely nothing. Mere childishness. The
other night I flung a fellow out of a certain
place where I was having a fairly good time. A
tyrannical little beast of a quill-driver from
the Treasury department. He was bullying the
people of the house. I rebuked him. 'You are
not behaving humanely to God's creatures that
are a jolly sight more estimable than yourself,'
I said. I can't bear to see any tyranny,
Kirylo Sidorovitch. Upon my word I can't. He
didn't take it in good part at all. 'Who's that
impudent puppy ?' he begins to shout. I was in
excellent form as it happened, and he went
through the closed window very suddenly. He
flew quite a long way into the yard. I raged
like--like a--minotaur. The women clung to me
and screamed, the fiddlers got under the table.
. . . Such fun! My dad had to put his hand
pretty deep into his pocket, I can tell you."
"My dad is a very useful man. Jolly good thing
it is for me, too. I do get into unholy
His elation fell. That was just it. What was
his life? Insignificant; no good to anyone; a
mere festivity. It would end some fine day in
his getting his skull split with a champagne
bottle in a drunken brawl. At such times, too,
when men were sacrificing themselves to ideas.
But he could never get any ideas into his head.
His head wasn't worth anything better than to be
split by a champagne bottle.
Razumov, protesting that he had no time, made an
attempt to get away. The other's tone changed
to confidential earnestness.
"For God's sake, Kirylo, my dear soul, let me
make some sort of sacrifice. It would not be a
sacrifice really. I have my rich dad behind me.
There's positively no getting to the bottom of
And rejecting indignantly Razumov's suggestion
that this was drunken raving, he offered to lend
him some money to escape abroad with. He could
always get money from his dad. He had only to
say that he had lost it at cards or something of
that sort, and at the same time promise solemnly
not to miss a single lecture for three months on
end. That would fetch the old man; and he,
Kostia, was quite equal to the sacrifice.
Though he really did not see what was the good
for him to attend the lectures. It was
"Won't you let me be of some use?" he pleaded to
the silent Razumov, who with his eyes on the
ground and utterly unable to penetrate the real
drift of the other's intention, felt a strange
reluctance to clear up the point.
"What makes you think I want to go abroad?" he
asked at last very quietly.
Kostia lowered his voice.
"You had the police in your rooms yesterday.
There are three or four of us who have heard of
that. Never mind how we know. It is sufficient
that we do. So we have been consulting
"Ah! You got to know that so soon," muttered
"Yes. We did. And it struck us that a man like
you. . . "
"What sort of a man do you take me to be?"
Razumov interrupted him.
"A man of ideas--and a man of action too. But
you are very deep, Kirylo. There's no getting
to the bottom of your mind. Not for fellows
like me. But we all agreed that you must be
preserved for our country. Of that we have no
doubt whatever--I mean all of us who have heard
Haldin speak of you on certain occasions. A man
doesn't get the police ransacking his rooms
without there being some devilry hanging over
his head. . . . And so if you think that it
would be better for you to bolt at once. . . ."
Razumov tore himself away and walked down the
corridor, leaving the other motionless with his
mouth open. But almost at once he returned and
stood before the amazed Kostia, who shut his
mouth slowly. Razumov looked him straight in
the eyes, before saying with marked deliberation
and separating his words-
He went away again rapidly. Kostia, recovering
from his surprise at these manoeuvres, ran up
behind him pressingly.
"No! Wait! Listen. I really mean it. It would
be like giving your compassion to a starving
fellow. Do you hear, Kirylo? And any disguise
you may think of, that too I could procure from
a costumier, a Jew I know. Let a fool be made
serviceable according to his folly. Perhaps
also a false beard or something of that kind may
"Razumov turned at bay.
"There are no false beards needed in this
business, Kostia--you good-hearted lunatic, you.
What do you know of my ideas? My ideas may be
poison to you." The other began to shake his
head in energetic protest.
"What have you got to do with ideas? Some of
them would make an end of your dad's money-bags.
Leave off meddling with what you don't
understand. Go back to your trotting horses and
your girls, and then you'll be sure at least of
doing no harm to anybody, and hardly any to
The enthusiastic youth was overcome by this
"You're sending me back to my pig's trough,
Kirylo. That settles it. I am an unlucky beast-
-and I shall die like a beast too. But mind--
it's your contempt that has done for me."
Razumov went off with long strides. That this
simple and grossly festive soul should have
fallen too under the revolutionary curse
affected him as an ominous symptom of the time.
He reproached himself for feeling troubled.
Personally he ought to have felt reassured.
There was an obvious advantage in this
conspiracy of mistaken judgment taking him for
what he was not. But was it not strange?
Again he experienced that sensation of his
conduct being taken out of his hands by Haldin's
revolutionary tyranny. His solitary and
laborious existence had been destroyed--the only
thing he could call his own on this earth. By
what right? he asked himself furiously. In
What infuriated him most was to feel that the
"thinkers" of the University were evidently
connecting him with Haldin--as a sort of
confidant in the background apparently. A
mysterious connexion! Ha ha!. . . He had been
made a personage without knowing anything about
it. How that wretch Haldin must have talked
about him! Yet it was likely that Haldin had
said very little. The fellow's casual
utterances were caught up and treasured and
pondered over by all these imbeciles. And was
not all secret revolutionary action based upon
folly, self-deception, and lies?
"Impossible to think of anything else," muttered
Razumov to himself. "I'll become an idiot if
this goes on. The scoundrels and the fools are
murdering my intelligence."
He lost all hope of saving his future, which
depended on the free use of his intelligence.
He reached the doorway of his house in a state
of mental discouragement which enabled him to
receive with apparent indifference an official-
looking envelope from the dirty hand of the
"A gendarme brought it," said the man. " He
asked if you were at home. I told him 'No, he's
not at home.' So he left it. 'Give it into his
own hands,' says he. Now you've got it--eh?"
He went back to his sweeping, and Razumov
climbed his stairs, envelope in hand. Once in
his room he did not hasten to open it. Of
course this official missive was from the
superior direction of the police. A suspect! A
He stared in dreary astonishment at the
absurdity of his position. He thought with a
sort of dry, unemotional melancholy; three years
of good work gone, the course of forty more
perhaps jeopardized--turned from hope to terror,
because events started by human folly link
themselves into a sequence which no sagacity can
foresee and no courage can break through.
Fatality enters your rooms while your landlady's
back is turned; you come home and find it in
possession bearing a man's name, clothed in
flesh--wearing a brown cloth coat and long boots-
-lounging against the stove. It asks you, "Is
the outer door closed?"--and you don't know
enough to take it by the throat and fling it
downstairs. You don't know. You welcome the
crazy fate. "Sit down," you say. And it is all
over. You cannot shake it off any more. It
will cling to you for ever. Neither halter nor
bullet can give you back the freedom of your
life and the sanity of your thought. . . . It
was enough to dash one's head against a wall.
Razumov looked slowly all round the walls as if
to select a spot to dash his head against. Then
he opened the letter. It directed the student
Kirylo Sidorovitch Razumov to present himself
without delay at the General Secretariat.
Razumov had a vision of General T---'s goggle
eyes waiting for him--the embodied power of
autocracy, grotesque and terrible. He embodied
the whole power of autocracy because he was its
guardian. He was the incarnate suspicion, the
incarnate anger, the incarnate ruthlessness of a
political and social regime on its defence. He
loathed rebellion by instinct. And Razumov
reflected that the man was simply unable to
understand a reasonable adherence to the
doctrine of absolutism.
"What can he want with me precisely--I wonder?"
he asked himself.
As if that mental question had evoked the
familiar phantom, Haldin stood suddenly before
him in the room with an extraordinary
completeness of detail. Though the short winter
day had passed already into the sinister
twilight of a land buried in snow, Razumov saw
plainly the narrow leather strap round the
Tcherkess coat. The illusion of that hateful
presence was so perfect that he half expected it
to ask, "Is the outer door closed?" He looked at
it with hatred and contempt. Souls do not take
a shape of clothing. Moreover, Haldin could not
be dead yet. Razumov stepped forward menacingly;
the vision vanished--and turning short on his
heel he walked out of his room with infinite
But after going down the first flight of stairs
it occurred to him that perhaps the superior
authorities of police meant to confront him with
Haldin in the flesh. This thought struck him
like a bullet, and had he not clung with both
hands to the banister he would have rolled down
to the next landing most likely. His legs were
of no use for a considerable time. . . . But
why? For what conceivable reason? To what end?
There could be no rational answer to these
questions; but Razumov remembered the promise
made by the General to Prince K---. His action
was to remain unknown.
He got down to the bottom of the stairs,
lowering himself as it were from step to step,
by the banister. Under the gate he regained much
of his firmness of thought and limb. He went
out into the street without staggering visibly.
Every moment he felt steadier mentally. And yet
he was saying to himself that General T--- was
perfectly capable of shutting him up in the
fortress for an indefinite time. His
temperament fitted his remorseless task, and his
omnipotence made him inaccessible to reasonable
But when Razumov arrived at the Secretariat he
discovered that he would have nothing to do with
General T---. It is evident from Mr. Razumov's
diary that this dreaded personality was to
remain in the background. A civilian of
superior rank received him in a private room
after a period of waiting in outer offices where
a lot of scribbling went on at many tables in a
heated and stuffy atmosphere.
The clerk in uniform who conducted him said in
"You are going before Gregor Matvieitch Mikulin."
There was nothing formidable about the man
bearing that name. His mild, expectant glance
was turned on the door already when Razumov
entered. At once, with the penholder he was
holding in his hand, he pointed to a deep sofa
between two windows. He followed Razumov with
his eyes while that last crossed the room and
sat down. The mild gaze rested on him, not
curious, not inquisitive--certainly not
suspicious--almost without expression. In its
passionless persistence there was something
Razumov, who had prepared his will and his
intelligence to encounter General T--- himself,
was profoundly troubled. All the moral bracing
up against the possible excesses of power and
passion went for nothing before this sallow man,
who wore a full unclipped beard. It was fair,
thin, and very fine. The light fell in coppery
gleams on the protuberances of a high, rugged
forehead. And the aspect of the broad, soft
physiognomy was so homely and rustic that the
careful middle parting of the hair seemed a
The diary of Mr. Razumov testifies to some
irritation on his part. I may remark here that
the diary proper consisting of the more or less
daily entries seems to have been begun on that
very evening after Mr. Razumov had returned home.
Mr. Razumov, then, was irritated. His strung-up
individuality had gone to pieces within him very
"I must be very prudent with him," he warned
himself in the silence during which they sat
gazing at each other. It lasted some little
time, and was characterized (for silences have
their character) by a sort of sadness imparted
to it perhaps by the mild and thoughtful manner
of the bearded official. Razumov learned later
that he was the chief of a department in the
General Secretariat, with a rank in the civil
service equivalent to that of a colonel in the
Razumov's mistrust became acute. The main point
was, not to be drawn into saying too much. He
had been called there for some reason. What
reason? To be given to understand that he was a
suspect--and also no doubt to be pumped. As to
what precisely? There was nothing. Or perhaps
Haldin had been telling lies. . . . Every
alarming uncertainty beset Razumov. He could
bear the silence no longer, and cursing himself
for his weakness spoke first, though he had
promised himself not to do so on any account.
"I haven't lost a moment's time," he began in a
hoarse, provoking tone; and then the faculty of
speech seemed to leave him and enter the body of
Councillor Mikulin, who chimed in approvingly--
"Very proper. Very proper. Though as a matter
of fact. . . ."
But the spell was broken, and Razumov
interrupted him boldly, under a sudden
conviction that this was the safest attitude to
take. With a great flow of words he complained
of being totally misunderstood. Even as he
talked with a perception of his own audacity he
thought that the word "misunderstood" was better
than the word "mistrusted," and he repeated it
again with insistence. Suddenly he ceased,
being seized with fright before the attentive
immobility of the official. "What am I talking
about?" he thought, eyeing him with a vague
gaze. Mistrusted--not misunderstood--was the
right symbol for these people. Misunderstood
was the other kind of curse. Both had been
brought on his head by that fellow Haldin. And
his head ached terribly. He passed his hand
over his brow--an involuntary gesture of
suffering, which he was too careless to
restrain. At that moment Razumov beheld his own
brain suffering on the rack--a long, pale figure
drawn asunder horizontally with terrific force
in the darkness of a vault, whose face he failed
to see. It was as though he had dreamed for an
infinitesimal fraction of time of some dark
print of the Inquisition.
It is not to be seriously supposed that Razumov
had actually dozed off and had dreamed in the
presence of Councillor Mikulin, of an old print
of the Inquisition. He was indeed extremely
exhausted, and he records a remarkably dream-
like experience of anguish at the circumstance
that there was no one whatever near the pale and
extended figure. The solitude of the racked
victim was particularly horrible to behold. The
mysterious impossibility to see the face, he
also notes, inspired a sort of terror. All
these characteristics of an ugly dream were
present. Yet he is certain that he never lost
the consciousness of himself on the sofa,
leaning forward with his hands between his knees
and turning his cap round and round in his
fingers. But everything vanished at the voice
of Councillor Mikulin. Razumov felt profoundly
grateful for the even simplicity of its tone.
"Yes. I have listened with interest. I
comprehend in a measure your. . . But, indeed,
you are mistaken in what you. . . . "Councillor
Mikulin uttered a series of broken sentences.
Instead of finishing them he glanced down his
beard. It was a deliberate curtailment which
somehow made the phrases more impressive. But
he could talk fluently enough, as became
apparent when changing his tone to
persuasiveness he went on: "By listening to you
as I did, I think I have proved that I do not
regard our intercourse as strictly official. In
fact, I don't want it to have that character at
all. . . . Oh yes! I admit that the request for
your presence here had an official form. But I
put it to you whether it was a form which would
have been used to secure the attendance of a. .
"Suspect," exclaimed Razumov, looking straight
into the official's eyes. They were big with
heavy eyelids, and met his boldness with a dim,
steadfast gaze. "A suspect." The open
repetition of that word which had been haunting
all his waking hours gave Razumov a strange sort
of satisfaction. Councillor Mikulin shook his
head slightly. "Surely you do know that I've
had my rooms searched by the police?"
"I was about to say a 'misunderstood person,'
when you interrupted me," insinuated quietly
Razumov smiled without bitterness. The renewed
sense of his intellectual superiority sustained
him in the hour of danger. He said a little